Beyond knowledge versus belief: The contents of mental-state representations and their underlying computations.
The Behavioral and brain sciences
2021; 44: e141
Moving beyond distinguishing knowledge and beliefs, we propose two lines of inquiry for the next generation of theory of mind (ToM) research: (1) characterizing the contents of different mental-state representations and (2) formalizing the computations that generate such contents. Studying how children reason about what others think of the self provides an illuminating window into the richness and flexibility of human social cognition.
View details for DOI 10.1017/S0140525X20001879
View details for PubMedID 34796826
Moderated Online Data-Collection for Developmental Research: Methods and Replications
FRONTIERS IN PSYCHOLOGY
2021; 12: 734398
Online data collection methods are expanding the ease and access of developmental research for researchers and participants alike. While its popularity among developmental scientists has soared during the COVID-19 pandemic, its potential goes beyond just a means for safe, socially distanced data collection. In particular, advances in video conferencing software has enabled researchers to engage in face-to-face interactions with participants from nearly any location at any time. Due to the novelty of these methods, however, many researchers still remain uncertain about the differences in available approaches as well as the validity of online methods more broadly. In this article, we aim to address both issues with a focus on moderated (synchronous) data collected using video-conferencing software (e.g., Zoom). First, we review existing approaches for designing and executing moderated online studies with young children. We also present concrete examples of studies that implemented choice and verbal measures (Studies 1 and 2) and looking time (Studies 3 and 4) across both in-person and online moderated data collection methods. Direct comparison of the two methods within each study as well as a meta-analysis of all studies suggest that the results from the two methods are comparable, providing empirical support for the validity of moderated online data collection. Finally, we discuss current limitations of online data collection and possible solutions, as well as its potential to increase the accessibility, diversity, and replicability of developmental science.
View details for DOI 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.734398
View details for Web of Science ID 000720000200001
View details for PubMedID 34803813
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC8595939
No guts, no glory: underestimating the benefits of providing children with mechanistic details.
NPJ science of learning
2021; 6 (1): 30
Previous research shows that children effectively extract and utilize causal information, yet we find that adults doubt children's ability to understand complex mechanisms. Since adults themselves struggle to explain how everyday objects work, why expect more from children? Although remembering details may prove difficult, we argue that exposure to mechanism benefits children via the formation of abstract causal knowledge that supports epistemic evaluation. We tested 240 6-9 year-olds' memory for concrete details and the ability to distinguish expertise before, immediately after, or a week after viewing a video about how combustion engines work. By around age 8, children who saw the video remembered mechanistic details and were better able to detect car-engine experts. Beyond detailed knowledge, the current results suggest that children also acquired an abstracted sense of how systems work that can facilitate epistemic reasoning.
View details for DOI 10.1038/s41539-021-00108-5
View details for PubMedID 34686681
Children and adults selectively generalize mechanistic knowledge.
2020; 199: 104231
A central component of evaluating others as sources of information involves estimating how much they know about different domains: one might be quite knowledgeable about a certain domain (e.g., clocks), but relatively ignorant about another (e.g., birds). Estimating one's domain knowledge often involves making inferences from specific instances or demonstrations, with some suggesting broader knowledge than others. For instance, an American who demonstrates knowledge of an unfamiliar country like Djibouti likely knows more about geography as a whole compared to an American who demonstrates knowledge of a more familiar country like Canada. The current studies investigate the extent to which one potentially salient kind of knowledge - mechanistic knowledge - signals greater domain knowledge as a whole. Across four developmental studies, we find that both adults and children as young as six think that those who possess mechanistic knowledge about a basic level artifact category (e.g., clocks) are more knowledgeable about its superordinate level category (e.g., machines) than those with factual non-mechanistic knowledge (Studies 1a and 2a). We also find an analogous, yet delayed pattern with biological categories (Studies 1b and 2b). Together, these studies demonstrate that even young children, who possess little mechanistic knowledge themselves, nevertheless have a sophisticated sense of how knowledge of mechanism generalizes across related categories.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cognition.2020.104231
View details for PubMedID 32092550
The Privileged Status of Knowing Mechanistic Information: An Early Epistemic Bias
2019; 90 (5): 1772–88
Four studies with 180 5-7 year olds, 165 8-11 year olds and 199 adults show that young children appreciate the distinctive role played by mechanistic explanations in tracking causal patterns. Young children attributed greater knowledge to individuals offering mechanistic reasons for a claim than others who provide equally detailed nonmechanistic reasons. In Study 1, 5-7 year olds attributed greater knowledge to those offering mechanistic reasons. In Studies 2 and 3, all ages (5-7 and adults for Study 2; 5-7, 8-11 and adults for Study 3) assigned greater knowledge to those offering mechanistic reasons about causally central features than those offering nonmechanistic reasons. In Study 4, all ages (5-7, 8-11, adults) modulated the epistemic bias as a function of embedding goals.
View details for DOI 10.1111/cdev.13246
View details for Web of Science ID 000486524600029
View details for PubMedID 31106424